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Relationship Between Passion and Motivation
for Gaming in Players of Massively Multiplayer
Online Role-Playing Games
He´ ctor Fuster, MSc,
Andre´ s Chamarro, PhD,
Xavier Carbonell, PhD,
and Robert J. Vallerand, PhD
Passion represents one of the factors involved in online video gaming. However, it remains unclear how passion
affects the way gamers are involved in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). The
objective of the present study was to analyze the relationships between passions and motivations for online
game playing. A total of 410 MMORPG players completed an online questionnaire including motives for
gaming and the Passion Scale. Results indicated that passionate gamers were interested in relating with others
through the game and exhibited a high degree of interest in discovery of the game, gaining leadership and
prestige but little interest in escape from reality. However, some differences were observed with respect to the
role of the two types of passion in the different types of motivation. Speciﬁcally, harmonious passion (HP)
predicted higher levels of exploration, socialization, and achievement, in that order, while obsessive passion
(OP) predicted higher levels of dissociation, achievement, and socialization. The present ﬁndings suggest that
HP and OP predict different ways of engaging in MMORPGs and conﬁrm that passion is a useful construct to
help understand different motivational patterns demonstrated by MMORPG players.
Video games constitute one of the leisure activity
sectors that has grown the most in the last decade.
of the greatest contributors to this growth has been the mas-
sively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), a
genre that includes those online games involving a computer-
based simulated environment through which geographically
separated individuals interact by means of virtual represen-
tations (avatars) and have the ability to use and create objects.
Video games of this type bring together more than 22 million
Given the magnitude and constant growth of MMORPGs,
it is necessary to determine the mechanisms structuring this
activity. In this respect, there has been research into player
positive and negative impacts
and personality proﬁles of players.
A recent review of the literature has revealed the diversity
of players’ motives for playing MMORPGs.
Yee, players play MMORPGs to socialize with others, to
gain achievement, or to immerse into an alternative world.
Demetrovics et al.
identiﬁed seven motivations: social,
escape, competition, coping, skill development, fantasy, and
recreation. These dimensions overlap with those found by
Yee. A subsequent study by Fuster et al. identiﬁed four in-
trapersonal and interpersonal motives: socialization (i.e., to
make friends and provide mutual support while playing the
game), exploration (i.e., to discover the virtual environment
and participate in the mythology of the game and the ad-
ventures the game offers), achievement (i.e., seeking to
achieve one’s goals during the game), and dissociation (i.e.,
to avoid/escape reality while playing the game).
zation and achievement are similar to two of the factors
identiﬁed by Yee,
but exploration and dissociation split up
Yee’s immersion factor.
Some studies have regarded MMORPGs as opportunities
for making contact and socialization with other people.
One of the main components of the motivation for sociali-
zation is that of making new friends, whether through ad hoc
groups or through formal hierarchical groups, known as
Socialization in the context of a MMORPG in-
volves resolving challenges or quests that the game presents
with the help of other people, jointly discovering the features
and adventures offered by the MMORPG and, consequently,
Department of Psychology, Universidad Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Psychology, Universidad Auto
´noma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain.
Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
CYBERPSYCHOLOGY,BEHAVIOR,AND SOCIAL NETWORKING
Volume 17, Number 5, 2014
ªMary Ann Liebert, Inc.
sharing in achievements made by the guild as a whole.
relation to this social aspect of playing, Longman et al.
showed that social support among World of Warcraft players
was associated with fewer negative psychological symp-
toms and with greater well-being.
Boyle et al. analyzed the multifactorial nature of en-
gagement in digital entertainment games, including
MMORPGs, and recommended the use of rigorous theoret-
ical models because previous research tends to comprise lists
of features rather than coherent theoretical models.
The Dualistic Model of Passion is a new attempt to explain
how individuals experience inclination toward an activity in
which they invest time and energy.
The model distin-
guishes between harmonious passion (HP) and obsessive
passion (OP). Both types of passion refer to the tendency to
engage in an activity that the person likes or even loves and is
important to them, to the point of becoming an activity in-
volving identiﬁcation, in which they invest considerable time
and energy. HP involves an interest to engage in some ac-
tivity through their own volition that does not decline while
engaged in the activity. OP, on the other hand, refers to an
uncontrollable urge forcing the individual to engage in the
activity that one loves. Recent studies support the use of the
Dualistic Model of Passion to understand how people en-
gage in online video gaming and its effects.
studies on passion reveal that despite the fact that both forms
of passion are usually present while video gaming, only HP
is positively related to wanting to play as well as game en-
joyment, postplay energy, and self-realization.
Utz et al.
showed that HP was positively related to socialization.
on the other hand, predicts the negative aspects associated
with video gaming, such as the urge to play as well as the
amount of time spent playing, states of postgame tension,
and low levels of enjoyment of the game.
studies provide support for the generalizability of the Dua-
listic Model of Passion and suggest that passion represents
one of the factors involved in online video gaming. However,
it remains unclear how passion is related to the way gamers
are involved motivationally in digital gaming because HP
and OP may be activity speciﬁc.
Previous studies have used motivations for analyzing
gamers engagement and styles of play,
and others have
examined the independent effects of the two types of passion,
but no studies have analyzed how online gamers with differ-
ent passions experience different motivations while playing.
Also, as Vallerand et al. proposed, passion may inﬂuence the
contextual–motivational processes that are central for under-
However, the role of passion in pre-
dicting motivations experienced when engaged in MMORPGs
represents a key question
that to date has not yet been ad-
dressed. The purpose of the present study was to study the
relationship between passion and motivations for online video
gaming. On the basis of the above, we propose exploring how
the two types of passion are related to the different motivations
for engaging in MMORPGs identiﬁed by Fuster et al.
Previous research has shown that HP is related to co-
operating to achieve common goals in game missions and
and unrelated to escaping from life
In light of the above, it was hypothesized that
HP would be positively related to exploration, socialization,
and achievement, but unrelated to dissociation. On the other
hand, in light of the fact that OP is positively related to
escaping from life situations,
and either unrelated or neg-
atively related to relationships,
it was hypothesized that OP
would be positively related to dissociation, achievement, and
socialization, but unrelated to exploration (see Fig. 1).
Sampling was carried out for 1 month via MMORPG
gaming communities. A message was posted in the general
forum of each community that invited gamers to respond to
an online questionnaire. There was also a request to forward
the post to other players. During the sampling period, a total
of 430 Spanish-speaking MMORPG players between 16 and
45 years of age completed the questionnaire (410 men, 20
women). In light of the low number of women, female re-
sponses were not taken into account due to their low repre-
sentation in the sample (4.87%). The ﬁnal sample consisted
of 410 male players with a mean age of 26.49 years
(SD =6.78). Participants had been playing MMORPGs on
average for 6.06 years (SD =3.04) and had been playing their
current MMORPG for an average of 2.56 years (SD =2.29).
The most popular games were World of Warcraft (32%),
Lord of the Rings Online (22%), Rift (16.6%), EVE Online
(11.5%), Aion (5.1%), DC Universe Online (4.1%), and other
less popular MMORPGs (9.8%). The average number of
hours played per week was 22.38 (SD =13.82); 18.5% spent
10 hour or less per week playing MMORPG, 37.8% spent
between 11 and 20 hours, 22.4% between 21 and 30 hours,
10.5 % between 31 and 40 hours, and 10.7% of players spent
more than 40 hours playing per week.
Demographics. The questionnaire asked for information
about gender, age, which game they played, and how often
they played (distinguishing weekdays and weekends).
The Passion Scale. The Passion Scale was used to
measure passion in regard to the game.
consists of two scales and four criterion items;, all of which
are evaluated using 7-point Likert items. The criterion items
establish the degree to which the player likes the activity (item
1), values the activity (item 2), dedicates time and energy to it
(item 3), and considers it a passion (item 4). In the present
study, these four items were correlated (a=0.700). The ﬁrst
FIG. 1. Hypothesized path model of massively multi-
player online role-playing game (MMORPG) playing in
terms of motivations and passions.
PASSION AND MOTIVATION IN MMORPGS293
subscale (six items) measures HP (a=0.734), while the sec-
ond (six items) measures OP (a=0.853). The Passion Scale
has been shown in the past to have excellent psychometric
In the present study, acceptable levels of internal
consistency were found for the Passion subscales. Cronbach’s
alphas of the subscales are presented in Table 1 and were
Massively Multiplayer Online Games Motivations
Scale (MMO-MS). This scale was used to measure moti-
vations involved in playing with the different virtual worlds.
The MMO-MS is an adaptation of the World of Warcraft
adapted to each player’s reference virtual world.
The MMO-MS consists of 20 items divided into four sub-
scales: Socialization (three items), Exploration (ﬁve items),
Achievement (ﬁve items), and Dissociation (seven items).
Participants were requested to indicate for their favorite
MMORPG and their degree of agreement with each item.
Items were evaluated using a 7-point Likert scale. Cron-
bach’s alphas of the subscales are presented in column 4 of
Table 1. All Cronbach’s alpha coefﬁcients were adequate. A
conﬁrmatory factor analysis yielded an acceptable goodness
of ﬁt index for a four-factor model reﬂecting the four moti-
vation subscales: (v
(164) =461.11; p<0.01; CFI =0.94;
IFI =0.94; RMSEA =0.06 [0.000–0.070]).
Sampling was achieved by contacting Spanish-speaking
forums dedicated to various MMORPGs: Aion-ESP,Rift-
ESP,JuegaEnRed,DCUO Hispano,WoW-ESP,Guild Wars
Latino,EVE-Online.es, and Comunidad Hispana. Players
were invited to participate by a message posted in the general
or ‘‘off-topic’’ sections of the various forums. The message
included a brief explanation of how to answer the ques-
tionnaire and an image that contained a link to it. The mes-
sage also included a request to forward the questionnaire
to other players. The scales were adapted to permit im-
plementation using the LimeSurvey free software (www.
limesurvey.org/), which allows the dynamic design of
questionnaires in PHP and CSS formats. When a participant
accessed the questionnaire, they were shown a page titled
‘‘Informed Consent’’ that stated that by clicking the ‘‘next’’
button, they agreed to participate in the research and answer
the questions. This page also informed the participants that
their responses would remain anonymous and that they could
stop their participation voluntarily at any time without pen-
alty. Duplicate participation was controlled for via ‘‘cook-
ies’’ and IP ﬁltering. Answers were recorded in a MySQL
database hosted on the servers provided by LimeSurvey.
Responses were imported from the LimeSurvey host servers
to a database compatible with the statistical packages IBM
SPSS Statistics v19.0 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY) and EQS
6.1 (Multivariate Software, Inc., Encino, CA). Path analysis,
with maximum likelihood estimation, was used to test the
hypothesized model. Conventional criteria were used to as-
sess the ﬁt of the hypothesized model to the observed data.
Adequate ﬁt was inferred when TLI and CFI were >0.95,
RMSEA was <0.06, and SRMR was <0.08.
The means and standard deviations as well as the inter-
correlations of the measures are displayed in Table 1. HP and
OP correlated together only weakly. In general, gamers
scored higher on HP than on OP.
The hypothesized model was tested by a path analysis
where HP was hypothesized to be positively related to ex-
ploration, relationships, and achievement but unrelated to
dissociation, while OP was hypothesized to be positively
related to dissociation, achievement, and socialization but
unrelated to exploration. In addition, covariances were
freed between the two types of passion and among all
motivations except exploration and socialization on the
one hand and dissociation on the other. Due to the cross-
sectional design and the potential for multiple models to
provide adequate ﬁt to the data, a theoretically viable al-
ternative model was previously tested. In this alternative
model, HP is a positive predictor of socialization and ex-
ploration, two motives with positive consequences, and OP
is a positive predictor of achievement and dissociation,
which are expected to be motives with negative conse-
quences. In this model, all the motives are assumed to be
correlated. Additionally, a replication of the proposed
model was carried with World of Warcraft players and
players of the other MMORPGs.
Results are presented in Figure 2. Fit indexes demon-
strated that the theoretically alternative model did not show
an adequate ﬁt. However, the hypothesized model showed an
adequate ﬁt to the data (v
=4.591 (4); p>0.05; CFI =0.99;
GFI =0.99; NFI =0.99; NNFI =0.99; RMSEA =0.01 [0.000–
0.079]). Fit indexes for the hypothesized model in separate
samples indicate that the model ﬁts well for different games
(see Table 2).
statistic indicated that 11.2% of the variance in
Socialization, 19.2% of the variance in Exploration, 16.7%
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics and Correlation Coefﬁcients for the Massively Multiplayer
Online Games Motivations Scale (MMO-MS) and the Passion Scale
Mean SD a1234567
1 Socialization 10.74 4.40 0.815 — 0.317** 0.409** 0.247** 0.305** 0.184** 0.243**
2. Exploration 25.64 5.93 0.752 — 0.404** 0.123* 0.438** 0.072 0.327**
3. Achievement 18.00 7.32 0.815 — 0.385** 0.259** 0.342** 0.302**
4. Dissociation 20.94 8.93 0.835 — 0.137* 0.689** 0.541**
5. Harmonious passion 26.36 6.65 0.734 — 0.171** 0.422**
6. Obsessive passion 13.41 7.24 0.853 — 0.575**
7. Passion criteria 17.01 4.99 0.700 —
Correlation is signiﬁcant at the *0.05 level (two-tailed); **0.001 level (two-tailed).
SD, standard deviation.
294 FUSTER ET AL.
of the variance in Achievement, and 50.1% of the variance in
Dissociation were explained by the model.
As hypothesized, signiﬁcant paths ( p<0.001) were ob-
served between HP and exploration (b=0.381), socialization
(b=0.190), and achievement (b=0.235). On the other hand,
signiﬁcant paths were obtained between OP and dissocia-
tion (b=0.785), achievement (b=0.322), and socialization
Vallerand et al. proposed that passion may inﬂuence the
contextual–motivational processes that are central for un-
and Wang et al. concluded that
passion could help our understanding of motivation in digital
However, to date, studies have not analyzed how
passions may affect people’s motivations when engaged in
playing MMORPGs. Thus, the major goal of the present
study was to analyze how passion relates to motives for
playing MMORPGs. As expected, results indicated that HP
was mainly positively related to exploration and socializa-
tion as well as achievement. On the other hand, OP was
mainly related to dissociation and achievement and weakly
These results suggest that both constructs—motivation
and passion—can be integrated into an explanatory model of
gaming behavior, in which HP and OP guide the various
motivations experienced while playing online gaming. Thus,
as expected, it was found that exploration, socialization, and
achievement are motivations triggered by HP, whereas those
of dissociation, achievement, and, to a lesser extent, social-
ization are experienced when engaging in MMORPGs out of
OP. So, as expected, HP facilitates the experience of more
adaptive forms of motivation, while OP leads to the expe-
rience of both adaptive (achievement and socialization) and
less adaptive (dissociation) forms of motivation.
These ﬁndings are in line with those of Wang et al., who
concluded that those players who form part of a guild ori-
ented toward social interaction are less likely to develop an
addiction to playing, something that is associated with an
Although MMORPGs represents an open experience
in which players direct their activity toward challenges that
can be either casual or more achievement oriented,
game is usually developed within the limits resulting from
the motivations implicit in its design—mainly socialization
and exploration, with achievement being secondary to these.
It may thus be inferred that forms of playing motivated by
socialization and exploration predict positive conse-
Unsurprisingly, Longman et al. concluded that
socialization in playing MMORPGs leads to greater well-
The relationship between OP and socialization can be
explained by a phenomenon observed by Shen and Williams
who found that despite socialization in MMORPG being a
positive factor, in some cases it could develop to a point
where players preferred online encounters to ‘‘face-to-face’’
In this way, users avoid physical relations and
satisfy their social needs through a virtual world. Moreover,
Snodgrass et al. claim that dissociation is part of MMORPGs
through what they term ‘‘technologies of absorption,’’
which may lead to either positive or negative effects de-
pending on the context in which the activity is engaged.
Thus, Grifﬁths and Wan and Chiou state that MMORPGs can
be used as a way of counteracting deﬁciencies in players’
lives, and therefore the need to avoid reality may be a need to
avoid problems that the player is unable or unwilling to
The present ﬁndings indicate that HP and OP both help to
predict different ways of engaging in MMORPGs. Thus, the
results are in line with those of Stoeber et al. and Wang and
and conﬁrm that the Dualistic Model of Passion
helps to differentiate between two types of players who are
equally passionate about the game but who show different
motivational patterns and, as result, who experience different
consequences. HP is related to motivational forces to engage
voluntarily in an activity, where the player can control their
level of participation, display a ﬂexible persistence, and
experience adaptive outcomes. OP can generate excitement
derived from engagement, but becomes overpowering and
difﬁcult to regulate.
As a consequence, OP has been shown
to be associated with personal dissatisfaction, psychologi-
cal problems, behavioral problems, low self-realization, and
Thus, OP for online gaming pro-
motes online relationships but poorer outcomes.
However, our results support previous ﬁndings that have
evidenced the adaptive role of HP.
As Curran et al.
FIG. 2. Diagram of the conceptual model and the results
of path analysis.
Table 2. Fit of Path Models
/df CFI NNFI RMSEA [90% CI] AIC
M1 30.66 (4)* 7.65 0.95 0.83 0.12 [0.08–0.17] 22.66
M2 4.59 (4) ns 1.14 0.99 0.99 0.01 [0.00–0.07] -3.40
M3 6.11 (4) ns 1.52 0.98 0.95 0.06 [0.00–0.15] -1.88
M4 2.60 (4) ns 0.65 1 1 0.00 [0.00–0.07] -5.39
Note. M1: In this model, HP have a direct pathway to exploration and socialization, and OP to achievement and dissociation; the four
motives are intercorrelated. M2: The proposed model. M3: The proposed model tested only with World of Warcraft players (n=131). M4:
The proposed model tested only with players of other MMORPGs (n=279). *p<0.05; ns, not signiﬁcant.
PASSION AND MOTIVATION IN MMORPGS295
argued, this can be understood in the sense of its potential for
mitigating negative effects. So, interventions could then
focus on using MMORPGs in coexistence with other so-
cialization and leisure activities. With regard to OP, it seems
to be related to maladaptive forms of gaming, dedicating a
high number of hours with the main interest being to escape
from reality. Thus, it that is not the number of hours played
per se that may be problematic with respect to MMORPGs
but the passion that fuels game playing. Given that features
of the subjective experience of gaming, such as presence,
ﬂow, and immersion, may lead to negative outcomes,
their relationship with OP should be analyzed. Moreover,
because players who develop an OP for the game appear to
be unable to regulate the time they spend playing, in line
with Utz et al.’s suggestion, future research should assess
whether OP represents a screening tool for problematic
forms of play.
We note that these results have been ob-
tained on a sample of players of different MMORPGs, which
would validate the usefulness of the Dual Model of Passion
beyond speciﬁc games.
Certain limitations of the present study deserve to be
mentioned. One is that the data were cross-sectional. Clearly,
there is a need for longitudinal studies charting the evolution
of game playing motivation as a function of passion. Second,
it is not known whether the players with high scores for OP
were really addicted to the game. Given that the differenti-
ation between gaming addiction and high engagement is still
not clear, future studies should focus on this issue.
future research would do well to relate OP and addiction in
Moreover, another limitation of this study was the fact that
females could not be taken into account in the data analyses.
Other researchers have determined that the video game
phenomenon is profoundly gendered, and the number of
male players is signiﬁcantly greater than that of women.
Moreover, previous research with players has shown that
these differences are even greater among Spanish-speaking
MMORPG players, suggesting that this is due to the late
arrival of the MMORPG genre to the Spanish video game
Future research should take into consideration
achieving a representative female sample.
In conclusion, the passion–motivation model that was
empirically substantiated in the present research proposes a
framework and a context through which the gamer and his
activity can be understood in a more comprehensive fashion.
This research also suggests that the Dualistic Model of
Passion may be useful in designing programs to promote a
more adaptive way to engage in MMORPGs and, in turn, to
experience adaptive outcomes from one’s engagement in
Author Disclosure Statement
No competing ﬁnancial interests exist.
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Address correspondence to:
Dr. Andres Chamarro
Faculty of Psychology
´noma de Barcelona
B Building, Campus of Bellaterra
PASSION AND MOTIVATION IN MMORPGS297